Windows Photo Viewer anomoly


  • While this post is provoked by Windows Photo Viewer (WPV) it is not necessarily specific to any particular software product but rather related to what, for me at least, is the absence of consistency between different products that are supposed to be doing the same thing.

    In this case we're talking about viewing a digital image on a computer display monitor.  My recent interest in learning about digital image editing has lead me to learn that color management is a pretty complex subject and that differences exist between all of the devices involved in the process (i.e., work flow) of creating an image.  I also recognize that there is an inherent problem in trying to produce an image whose only purpose is to be viewed but that we don't have any control over what devices our audience might want to use when viewing that image.  However, it is really troubling when a fully developed image looks dramatically different when viewed on the same device using different software.

    I offer as an example a photograph in the form of a jpg image developed by a camera.  Since I also realize that you will be viewing anything I can try and show you with equipment and software unknown to me, the only way I could think to accomplish my objective was to photograph my own monitor while displaying an image.  Keep in mind that image quality is irrelevant in this case the only thing I'm wanting to demonstrate is difference, which I'm thinking should be apparent no matter how you are viewing this image.

    Here is a photograph of a photograph being display on my monitor with 2 different image viewers.  In that, the exact same file has been opened by each viewer.  The one on the left is the WPV that is part of Windows 7 and the one on the right is GIMP.  It looks to me like WPV is the outlier.  In that, whatever differences might exist between other viewers (i.e., other than these 2) are subtle enough that they are not so apparent, at least to me, from what GIMP shows.  However, I'm inclined to think that whatever explanation might exist for the difference demonstrated here could also apply to any software and that all such software may in fact be different in the same respect even if those differences are not sufficiently dramatic to be apparent to me or maybe even you.  It would be much more comforting to learn that WPV is an anomaly and that by simply not using it this apparent problem is solved.

    Can anyone explain what is happening here?
    Saturday, February 3, 2018 5:46 PM

All replies

  • Excuse me but there is no picture shows the difference.

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    Monday, February 5, 2018 2:23 AM
  • Are you saying that the above link (i.e., Here is a photograph ) does not display a picture for you?  If so my fears about how to produce images others can correctly view are even worse than I previously thought.  I'm only able to test using Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox on a Windows 7 computer.  But they all function as expected.
    Monday, February 5, 2018 3:51 PM
  • I am not sure it is a real problem, seems that it is by design.

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    Tuesday, February 6, 2018 8:39 AM
  • Are you saying the Microsoft intended, by design, that pictures look different only when viewed by WPV?

    If so, why would anyone want to use such a product?

    This might make sense if the user had some control over special affects as is done by lots of products.  However the purpose of WPV, as best I can tell, is to simply view an image.  Shouldn't one expect that said image is faithfully rendered?

    It isn't too hard to simply stop using WPV but I thought it would help me, as well as any others who might find there way to this post, to know more about how digital imaging works if we knew why the same picture looks so different when the only difference is the software used to view it.

    Wednesday, February 7, 2018 3:33 PM
  • Have you tried to reinstall the software?

    Have you tried to install the software on another machine, seeing if the issue still exists?

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    Thursday, February 8, 2018 1:35 AM
  • Actually, I've now discovered that it is NOT so easy to stop using WPV, which causes me to ask "How can I completely disable WPV?".

    While I do seem to be able to specify an alternative viewer by using Windows Explorer and "right-click>Open With" dialog on a file with an extension designating a graphic format such as .jpg.  However, when my camera is connected to a USB port this option goes away and Windows uses WPV even though I've specified a different program as previously described.

    This raises some other questions,

    Is it possible for me to specify what program to invoke for the files on my camera which very much appears to be just another folder in Windows Explorer?  Possibly some registry manipulation or even installing another viewer that appears to be WPV.

    I'm pretty sure I can figure out how to remove WPV from MY system but what will Windows 7 try to do then?  I have a feeling it won't be helpful!

    Sunday, February 11, 2018 6:03 PM
  • Are you suggesting reinstalling Windows without good reason to think that it would solve the problem?

    Also, I have several Windows 7 systems on multiple computers and they all work the same!

    Sunday, February 11, 2018 6:07 PM
  • It is suggested that you change the default program for that types of picture. 

    Click Start - input default programs in search bar -  set your default programs – Windows Photo Viewer – Choose defaults for this program, do not select the type that you want to print.

    If it doesn’t work, please try to remove the preview by modifying the registry. Please backup the registry before you modify it.

    Click Stat – input Regedit in search bar, navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT/SystemFileAssociations/image/ShellEx/ContexMenuHandles

    Then delete the key ShellImagePreview.

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    Monday, February 12, 2018 10:55 AM
  • First, as suggested when I go to "Set Your Default Programs" WPV is NOT selected for any of the image files that I recognize.  Only for a couple of obscure file extensions that I know nothing about.

    Second, on my system the registry key you mention does not exist.  In that, already in removed state.

    However my system still behaves as previously mentioned.  Something that is really baffling is that it is only when I open a file in a sub-folder of my camera device that WPV is invoked.  If I take the memory card out of my camera and mount it using another USB adapter the same file contained in the same folder opens with the viewer that I have set for the applicable file type extension.  This raises the question why is the same file system treated differently by Windows when mounted using the camera verses a USB SDcard Adapter?

    It looks like I should adhere to that famous old adage "If It Hurts Don't Do It" but that doesn't explain what's going on in Windows!

    • Edited by SnookRed Tuesday, February 13, 2018 4:29 PM
    Tuesday, February 13, 2018 4:28 PM
  • Regarding the difference between image viewers, perhaps the image file contains correction factors in its metadata (possibly automatically added by the camera), and these factors are applied by one of the viewers but not by the other? Just a thought...

    Tim De Baets

    Wednesday, February 14, 2018 8:08 PM
  • Tim,

    Clearly the 2 viewers in my example are doing something different.  I'm just learning about digital imaging to especially include editing which is what lead me to make this discovery.  Image editing is quite complicated and there are lots of adjustments that can be made.

    With that said, the photo (singular) in my example is a file in jpg format that was developed by the camera.  Having worked a bit on developing the raw files that some cameras, although not the one that took this picture, produce I find it rather amazing what a good job they do.  Also while GIMP, which is displaying the picture on the right, is a very sophisticated image editing program there has been no editing done on the subject picture.  At the same time, WPV does nothing but display the picture.  In that, there are no use options that can be used to affect what is displayed.  When it comes to rendering colors there are lots of factors to consider.  For example, the device on which it is displayed matters.  This means what you are looking at is not exactly what I am seeing but it certainly seems that the objective has to be to get the repeat ability as good as possible. 

    The repeat ability is very good for all of the other viewers which I can find.  WPV is the outlier and at least for my purposes is useless.  How can I get rid of it short of moving to Linux?

    Thursday, February 15, 2018 6:04 PM
  • I have a Win 10 64 system and use GIMP 2.10. I see some difference between WPV and GIMP, but not much. Nowhere near as drastic as your photo shows. 
    Wednesday, September 12, 2018 3:19 PM
  • I hadn't noticed a difference in the contrast, color hue, and saturation in WPV vs. {Lightroom, Bridge, Photoshop, the old Microsoft Photo Editor, Nikon ViewNX-i, etc. -- basically everything} until after I color calibrated my display with an X-Rite i1 Profiler.  Then it became quite obvious -- and obviously incorrect.

    I infer that WPV is not applying the custom (i.e., calibrated) color profile, which is now set as the default, for my display.  Or, it is applying it incorrectly.

    BTW, WPV is a dangerous little program, as if you open a JPEG with it, and rotate the image, WPV edits the file and resaves it WITHOUT TELLING YOU.  Not a good thing with JPEGs.  Adobe Bridge CC is a MUCH better photo viewer alternative.  Plus, it's 100 percent free, and it will display Photoshop (PSD) and raw files (CR2, NEF, DNG, etc.) in addition to all the usual types.

    • Edited by Temple999 Wednesday, September 12, 2018 6:01 PM
    Wednesday, September 12, 2018 5:58 PM
  • Strange. 

    Thanks for the tip on Bridge CC. I will check it out.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2018 7:15 PM
  • It seems to me that there is a simple explanation for the effect observed by the OP. In fact he virtually described it in one of his posts:

    At the same time, WPV does nothing but display the picture.  In that, there are no use options that can be used to affect what is displayed. 

    The fact that there are no user options in no way equates to "WPV does nothing but ...". The developer will have choosen various options in programming how the application displays a file on screen.

    As there is no way for a user to change these defaults it is highly likely that they were chosen to give an image which (in the view of the developer) would be attractive to a wide range of users looking at a wide range of source material on a wide variety of screens. Hence hardly surprising if the WPV image looks different to that obtained with a far more complex program set up for a specific task (eg display an image as close as possible to the source material on a calibrated screen).

    Wednesday, September 12, 2018 9:30 PM